How COVID-19 impacts the Class of 2020’s college experience

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2020 graduate Tucker Leo unpacks his bags, ready to move into his new apartment at UF. “I never thought I’d be starting college this way, wearing a mask and having to stay socially distant,” Leo said. “It hasn’t quite hit me yet [that I’m starting college], but I am really excited for the next few months” (Photo submitted/Tucker Leo).

As students return back to school, high school and college, institutions all across the country are handling this new school year in many different ways due to COVID-19. Just a few weeks into the new school year, high schools and colleges have been dropping like flies as cases have been spiking across school campuses, and a variety of approaches are being considered to address the problem. According to an article in the Business insider, many schools like Harvard, Rutgers, John Hopkins, the University of Florida (UF) and almost all California schools will be entirely remote for the fall semester of 2020. Other schools are planning to continue in person classes, while many others are adopting a hybrid system set up to allow social distancing and smaller classroom sizes. 

2020 American Heritage graduate Ana Lopez attends Syracuse University and her first couple weeks in college have not been what she expected. Syracuse adopted a hybrid class system, meaning most classes will consist of two groups, halving one half of the class participate through zoom and half the class show up in person one day, and then have the two groups of students switch the next day. 

Excited to meet many new friends, Lopez said it has been harder then she thought to meet new people. 

“There’s a maximum capacity everywhere to make sure proper social distancing is taking place. We have to wear masks basically everywhere on campus, and food from the dining halls must be eaten outside or in the dorm rooms,” Lopez said. “We had to sign a ‘stay safe’ pledge before arriving on campus vowing to follow the new COVID-19 rules, and around 30 kids got suspended from school for not wearing masks and having too many kids in their dorm room.”

Universities like John Hopkins and UF have switched to an all virtual class schedule, and this has made college life stressful and different for every student. Another 2020 graduate, Tucker Leo will be attending UF this school year. Concerned about the risk of getting the virus, “I decided to rescind my application for on campus housing in the dorms and live in an apartment,” Leo said. “Not living in dorms or going to class will be tough socially, but I’m excited to move into my new room and meet kids in my building.”

One more 2020 graduate, Sofia Posada may be affected by COVID-19 the worst of all three students. Attending John Hopkins University, Sofia will have to remain at home and take all remote classes. “The University switched to all online classes and closed the dorms, making it really hard for me to get housing up there and why I will have to stay home,” Sofia said. “It really sucks I have to stay home, but I will go back and forth from staying in Florida and staying at my aunt’s house in New Jersey.”

While last year’s seniors already faced devastating consequences of COVID shutting down activities like prom and grad bash, the virus’ impact remains intact as all of the graduates now face different circumstances in college.

Now a returning member on the newspaper staff, Senior Jack Shechtman is the Opinion Section Editor for the print newsmagazine. Outside of writing for the Patriot Post, Jack has been a starter on the varsity lacrosse team since his freshman year, as well as an active fisherman. Jack is in a few clubs outside of the school and plans on going to college to study Business and Real Estate Development.

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